New details on stalled investigation into whether some schools serving ultra-Orthodox yeshivas are breaking the law
There were new details this week on the city's stalled investigation into whether some schools serving ultra-Orthodox Jewish students are breaking the law. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
For two years, the de Blasio administration has said it is investigating whether some ultra-Orthodox yeshivas are breaking the law by not teaching English, math, science or history.
Now, the city Department of Education says it has only visited six of the 39 schools under investigation.
In each case, the schools were allowed to decide when those visits would occur. And all six visits took place this past spring, about a year after the chancellor told the City Council the entire investigation was about to be completed.
"They keep saying that they are taking this investigation so seriously. So I just can't help but wonder, how is it that they only did six visits in two-plus years of investigating this issue?" said Naftuli Moster of Young Advocates for a Fair Education. "So I think there is definitely something wrong going on here."
NY1 asked Mayor Bill de Blasio about the stalled investigation and allegations the delays are politically motivated. The ultra-Orthodox population is considered a powerful voting block, and the mayor is running for re-election.
"There's just more work to do, Lindsey," de Blasio said. "We gave an initial projection. We found that we have to do a lot more work. We have a lot more schools to visit to get to a firmer conclusion. But look, in the meantime, there has been a lot of dialogue with the yeshivas, very purposeful efforts to address these issues."
But a letter written last month by a city lawyer suggests that dialogue has also stalled. The last meeting between the city and the yeshiva leaders happened more than a year ago.
This week, a group advocating for more secular studies released a report saying tens of thousands of local yeshiva students are suffering educational neglect.
"We're not talking about missing two years of school, which is what happens in the Amish community. We're talking about not getting any education, except maybe a first- or second-grade level," said Marci Hamilton of Child USA.
State law requires students in private or religious schools receive an education substantially equivalent to what the public schools provide. The mayor is declining to give a date when the investigation will be completed.